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12 October 2017, 03:26 | Opal Carroll
US Ambassador John Bass attends a news conference in Ankara Turkey
English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily. "It is impossible for us to say "yes" to this", President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a gathering of provincial governors in the capital Ankara, referring to outgoing U.S. Ambassador John Bass.
Wednesday's talk between the two officials is first since the U.S. Embassy in Turkey on Sunday announced the suspension of non-immigration visas for Turkish nationals following the arrest of a Turkish employee at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul.
He asserted that Turkey will stand behind its decision to mutually suspend visa services with Washington if the U.S. Secretary of State and the president defended the envoy's move. Turkey's crackdown against Gulen's movement has led to the arrests of more than 50,000 people for alleged links to terror groups. Tillerson expressed his "profound concern" about the arrests, the US State Department said in a statement.
"I find the lack of consultation by senior US authorities with our foreign minister awkward", Erdogan said in televised remarks in Belgrade, Serbia, on Tuesday.
Erdogan also rebuffed criticism of Turkey's arrest of the consulate employee, alleging he had ties to US -based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of masterminding a coup attempt past year.
During the conversation, Tillerson said Turkey needed to present evidence for the accusations against the consulate employee, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. It lasted more than 30 minutes, Turkish media said.
U.S. -Turkish relations were already strained over U.S. military support for Kurdish fighters in Syria and the United States' unwillingness to extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally whom Ankara views as the mastermind behind last year's failed military coup.
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